Research programmes

Before applying to study for a research programme at the University, ensure that you can meet all the entrance requirements. The information below includes details on how and when to apply for our research programmes.

Finding a supervisor

As a prospective PhD, MSc(Res), or MSt(Res) student, you will apply to work with an individual supervisor or supervisory team within a School or institute, and not a specific programme of study. It is therefore important that you look at staff research interests within the University and ensure that your project matches an existing area of research.

If you are unable to identify a possible supervisor, please contact the School directly, who will be happy to advise you of the most appropriate academic for your chosen research area.

Applicants applying for the MFA, MRes or MPhil programmes are not required to contact a possible supervisor before making an application.

Entry requirements

Admission to research study within the Faculties of Arts and Divinity is normally on the basis of a good Masters degree which must be related to your area of research. Research applicants within the Faculty of Science require a good first degree with Honours at 2.1 (UK) or the overseas equivalent – more details can be found at entry requirements and country information.

The degree of MD (Medicine) requires a medical qualification that is recognised by the UK General Medical Council.

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of English proficiency. For further information on what evidence of English proficiency is required please email:

Supporting documents and references

All applications must include the following supplementary documentation before a decision can be made:

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date.
  • A research proposal - see School-specific details below.
  • A sample of academic written work in English - see School-specific details below.
  • Two original signed academic references.
  • Academic transcripts and degree certificates. Please only send certified copies with official English translations if applicable. Do not send original documents as they cannot be returned.
  • English language requirements certificate.

Research proposal

  • Applicants intending to read for a PhD, DLang, MPhil, MSc(Res) or MSt(Res) award should include an outline in English of not more than 500 words, with the following exceptions:
    • International Relations: 1,000 words
    • School of Philosophy: 1,000 words
    • Department of Film Studies: 2,000 words.  Please also provide a brief statement of purpose or personal statement.
    • School of English: 2,000 words, including draft title and chapter outlines where possible.

Written work sample

All applications submitted to the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Divinity should include a 2,000-word sample of written work in English, with exceptions for:

  • Applicants to the School of English should submit a 3,000 to 5,000 word critical essay. This can be an extract from a previous project or essay, or part of your dissertation.
  • Applicants to the Department of Philosophy may provide a sample of written work between 2,000 to 4,000 words in length.
  • Applicants to the School of Classics should provide a sample of written work between 2,500 to 5,000 words in length; this should be written in English.

Applicants who cannot provide a sample such as this should contact the appropriate School directly for further guidance.

Students applying to the Faculty of Science are not expected to submit a sample of their written work.


  • Two referees must be supplied per application.
  • You, the applicant, will supply your referees' details. This will include their:
    • name
    • university or business
    • country of their university or business
    • university or business email.
  • The online application system will automatically generate an email to the referees.

We will automatically contact your named referees only when you have submitted your final application. On submission of your application you will receive notification that we have contacted your referees requesting a reference; we will require one from each referee.

Your referee will be emailed a link to a web form to complete a reference online or to upload a document. You and your School will receive a notification when each referee has successfully uploaded a reference.

Referees who do not provide a reference within two weeks of the first request will be automatically emailed once more. Beyond this, it is your responsibility to ensure that your referees provide references.

Important dates and deadlines

For the majority of Schools, there is no deadline on applying for research. However, the following Schools have specific deadlines each year:

  • School of Divinity – applications received by Monday 15 January 2018 will receive first consideration as a gathered field both for acceptance and for School scholarships; applications received after that date are considered on a rolling basis if and as places are available.
  • School of International Relations – Applications to be considered for scholarship funding must be received by Friday 15 December 2017. The deadline for all postgraduate research applications is Monday 15 January 2018.
  • School of Classics – all complete PhD applications received by Wednesday 20 December 2017 will be considered for scholarship funding, unless the applicant indicates otherwise. There is no deadline for applicants not seeking funding from the School.
  • School of Psychology and Neuroscience – only complete PhD applications received by Tuesday 16 January 2018 will be considered for scholarship funding. There is no deadline for applicants not seeking funding.

For all other Schools or Departments, applications can be sent in any time throughout the academic year. However, it is important to remember that if you are applying for any scholarships or funding, then the deadline for this may be early in the year.

Start dates

We strongly encourage students to begin their studies in September, but the start date for research study can be flexible. Your start date will be decided between yourself and your supervisor, but you may indicate your preferred start date on the application. Start dates are 27 August, September, October, January or May.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees will vary depending on what programme you are studying and where you live. You may be able to apply for help with funding your studies at the University.

Early application is strongly advised if you are applying for a scholarship. Many have an early closing date (often between December and February) and most scholarships require you to be holding an offer in order to be considered for funding.

We continue to accept self-funded applications even after scholarship deadlines have passed. If you need further guidance on this, please contact the School that you are applying to.

For more advice on scholarships and funding, please go to postgraduate scholarships. You can also find out about our current tuition fees.

Applicants with special needs or disabilities

Applicants should disclose the details of any special needs or disabilities that they have in the relevant section of the application form. This information will be passed on to the Advice and Support Centre's disability team. Applicants with a special need or disability are encouraged to get in touch with the disability team (email as early as possible to ensure that their needs will be met by the University.

If you are a student with a special need or disability, and the University has not been made fully aware of your disability requirements prior to an offer being made, we cannot guarantee that suitable resources will be available on your arrival in St Andrews.

Please note that all applications are assessed purely on academic merit, and the impact of a disability will be considered only after a final decision has been made.

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